I was making a list of top fantasy/sci-fi novels for a discussion board, and decided that I would post a list of my all time favorite fiction here too. I’ll update with lists of fiction and children’s books in the upcoming days.
1) Veniss Underground – Jeff Vandermeer
Retelling of Orpheus' trip to the underworld, except Orpheus is an engineer going into hell to save a woman that has been disassembled for parts, and Hades is a scientist name Quin who’s got monkeys with human faces sitting in display cases that are bioengineered into his chest. Veniss Underground may not seem like everyone’s cup of tea, but its intelligent, and moving, and ultimately it’s about how we relate to one another. Plus its got meerkats!
2) Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game seems to have universal appeal (I haven’t met many people who dislike the book). It has a special place in my heart because it was my first introduction to good science fiction. It’s also standing testament to how an author can write something beautiful, and later churn out crap because he’s sold his soul to the publishers. If you like anything after the Ender Quartet, don’t speak to me because you will be in for a 20 minute rant on why I hate Bean and why none of the “alternate” history makes any sense.
3) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
If you don’t like it the first time around, give it a second chance. If you don’t like it the second time around, then you’re obviously a stupid and rather humorless dingbat.
4) Cities of Saints and Madmen – Jeff Vandermeer
Cities of Saints and Madmen is a labor of love and perseverance from the author. Besides being an amazing experience to read, it also appeals to the bibliophile in me. The book (hardcover version) is a work of art. If you find House of Leaves appealing to you on an aesthetic and experimental level, you will appreciate this book. Also for a month after reading this, I was really afraid of mushrooms and squid
5) Balzac’s War – Jeff Vandermeer
This isn’t a novel, but it’s my favorite short story of all time, and deserves to be on any of my lists for favorite writing. This takes place in the same universe as Veniss Underground.
6) Waking Beauty – Paul Witcover
Waking Beauty is fantasy at its most decadent. It’s hard for me to believe that any one person could have the mental energy to imagine and commit all that happens in this book to paper.
I really don’t know how to summarize this book, so I lifted a quote from some editor on Amazon.com “This visionary debut spans the uncommon range of Anne Rice's voluptuous darkness, Salman Rushdie's literary provocation and Quentin Tarantino's violent hipness”.
I’m not sure whether I agree or not, but its as good as anything else that can be used to describe this novel. Read it and find out what its all about!